Major policy change to recognise the rights of new Irish citizens
The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, has today announced changes in the fees arrangements for migrant students living in Ireland. In future, non-EEA nationals who acquire EEA* citizenship during their college course will no longer be required to pay full tuition fees.
Currently, the children of non-EEA migrants, legally resident in the State, generally have the same rights as the children of Irish parents to free primary and second-level education. These arrangements do not apply to higher education courses, where students must pay tuition fees, with the exact fee applicable a matter for the individual institution. These fees can often exceed €10,000 per annum.
Announcing the change, Minister Quinn said: “Today’s development means that we are adopting an equitable approach to non-EEA students who acquire EEA citizenship during the course of their studies. It recognises the long connections many of them have with Ireland, as well as the positive contribution they can make to our shared future. This Government has introduced citizenship ceremonies for new Irish citizens, and this policy change will follow on from that development, and ensure that new citizens will be treated exactly the same as those born in Ireland.”
For students who do not have such citizenship, Minister Quinn also has requested the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to establish and report on the practices currently operated by individual higher education institutions in charging different rates of fees. This will ensure that all prospective students will have clarity for the first time about the level of tuition fees they may be required to pay.
“The non-EU rate of fee should be charged only to international students (with permission to remain on a student visa and conditions) and not to non-EEA nationals and their dependents who are legally resident in the EU. While this is a matter for individual institutions, today I am asking the HEA to enter into discussions with the institutions to introduction of a consistent policy on this basis across all higher education institutions.”
As with all students, to ensure that students are not required to pay non-EU fees, these students must also satisfy other conditions, such as living in Ireland for three of the previous five years.
Notes for Editors:
EEA is the European Economic Area, comprising EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Information on the Free Fees Scheme and the Student Grant Scheme, including eligibility criteria, can be found at: www.studentfinance.ie